Are Your Construction Workers Prepared for an Emergency?

Most individuals perform their morning routines without much thought. They do not have to wake up and remind themselves to brush their teeth, brew their coffee, and grab their lunch out of the refrigerator. They have ingrained these habits to the point where they become automatic. The same is true for construction workers on job sites. For example, they are likely to take the same route from their tools to where they are working. They likely do so because it is the most efficient way to do their job. Unfortunately, it may not be the most expedient path to evacuate during an emergency.

This is why site supervisors need to train construction staff on what to do and how to respond during an emergency. This is especially true for construction sites that shift layouts often to work on new phases of a project. The following are several elements to include in emergency response plans.

  1. Ensure all workers know the site layout. This includes all buildings as well as the location of emergency equipment and emergency exits. Site supervisors should make sure to post maps detailing this information in several locations throughout the job site. These maps should include highlighted routes to the nearest exit as well.
  2. Make sure workers know where to find emergency phone numbers. The roster should include phone numbers for the police, the fire department, medical emergency personnel, OSHA, insurance providers, the Coast Guard, and so on.
  3. Assign duties to specific workers in the event of an emergency. For example, certain workers should be responsible for phoning the correct emergency services to reduce chaos and prevent unnecessary injuries.
  4. Practice, practice, practice. No emergency procedure will go off without a hitch if the workers never practice it. Site supervisors should hold drills to practice what to do in the event of an emergency. They should also hold frequent safety briefings to review emergency procedures.

Accidents and emergencies happen despite the most careful planning. Even so, construction companies cannot afford to neglect emergency preparation. Doing so can result in pandemonium and excessive injuries. It can also cause insurance costs and workers’ compensation expenses to spiral out of control. To learn more about improving safety on construction sites, contact the experts at The Reilly Company.

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Critical Steps in Preventing Construction Fires

Construction sites present many hazards, but, with an ounce of care and prevention, workers can avoid most major accidents. Fires are one such example. Electrical and welding work, as well as loose debris, represent fire hazards on construction sites, and being prepared to manage them is an absolute must. Understanding the different types of fires and combating them is vital to construction site safety. However, avoiding a fire is preferable to dousing one.

Three Elements to Make a Fire

A fire cannot burn without three components: heat, fuel, and air. Welding equipment, cigarette butts, frayed wires, and more all provide a source of heat to ignite a fire. Fuel can come in many forms as well (i.e. liquids, gas, or solids). The most common are gasoline or propane, but scraps of paper or wood can act as a fuel source as well. The third component, air, is almost always present, and there is not much construction workers can do about it. However, there are several steps workers and supervisors can take to eliminate bringing all three elements together.

Preventing Fires

By removing one of the three elements, a fire cannot exist. Since workers cannot do much about air, they must focus their efforts on heat and fuel sources.

  1. Keep work areas clean. Eliminating debris eliminates a potential fuel source
  2. Obey all no smoking signs
  3. Store oil-soaked cloths in metal containers with lids
  4. Take pains to keep all flammable materials away from heat sources such as heaters
  5. Report all non-controllable fire risks such as exposed electrical wires

Construction site supervisors should discuss fire safety with their workers as well as provide the appropriate training on all fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers. While the goal should be to eliminate hazards, it is not always possible to remove all sources of risk on a construction site. The Reilly Group can help your construction business identify areas of exposure and develop a plan to mitigate them. To learn more about construction safety, contact us today.

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5 Easy Strategies to Prevent Construction Accidents

More often than not, accidents are preventable. By following simple safety protocols, construction workers and supervisors can avoid most accidents before they occur. The following are several tips constructions workers can use to improve job site safety.

  1. Practice good personal safety. Constructions workers should implement accident prevention into their everyday routine. For example, they should ensure their tools and equipment are clean and in good condition before using them. They should also put on any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) before starting construction work. Clothing matters as well. Anyone entering a construction site should wear the proper shoes (i.e. NO flip-flops) and avoid flowy or baggy clothes that a machine can snag.
  2. Follow instructions. Many individuals have the propensity to take shortcuts when they are familiar with a job. However, such behavior is a slippery slope toward bypassing instructions on all jobs to save time. No time saved is worth an injury.
  3. Do not horse around. There is a reason adults are constantly telling kids to stop being rowdy—they do not want them to get hurt. The same is true for adults. Trying to prank a coworker may seem funny, but it can have lethal consequences on a construction site if something goes wrong.
  4. Report risky behavior or conditions right away. Accident prevention is the responsibility of the individual and their coworkers. Taking personal safety precautions can protect one person; reporting hazardous working conditions or behaviors can protect several people. Individuals can achieve this with a simple friendly warning to the individual making unsafe choices, or that person can report it to someone with greater authority.
  5. Keep work areas clean. While trash and debris around the job site are eyesores, they are also hazards. Junk laying around can cause people to trip and fall. It can also act as an accelerant for fires. Keeping work areas tidy is not just good manners; it is good safety as well.

Accident prevention starts on a personal level, but there are several large-scale methods to reducing risk as well. The Reilly Company can help your construction business identify risks and develop a plan to address them. To learn more about how we can help you protect your investment, contact us today.

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Reducing Construction Risk with Personal Protective Equipment

Construction sites come with numerous risks that can cause lasting or permanent injuries. Personal protective equipment (PPE) can help avoid this, but it only works if construction workers wear it. Some of the top pieces of PPE are hard hats, fall protection, and eye protection. Without wearing PPE, construction workers may find themselves out of a job and employers may find themselves drowning in worker’s compensation claims. Below are some examples that illustrate why PPE is so vital.

Hard Hats

Blows to the head are not uncommon on construction sites. While workers should take precautions to minimize the frequency, accidents can happen. For example, welding metal plates require heavy-duty equipment and extreme pressure. If a temporary weld fails, the plates can go flying. If the plate strikes a worker in the head while not wearing a hard hat, he or she may suffer from brain damage or worse. Injuries can still occur while wearing hard hats, but this piece of PPE offers a significant degree of protection.

Fall Protection

Construction companies work hard to reduce the risk of fall hazards, but PPE provides backup should a fall occur. For instance, if scaffolding fails, safety harnesses can prevent workers from plummeting to the ground. If a worker falls six feet before his or her harness stops him, he or she is likely to walk away from the incident unharmed. However, if that worker neglected to wear his or her harness and fell upwards of 50 feet, that individual would have serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Eye Protection

There are several common sources of eye injuries on construction sites. These include:

  • UFOs: While many associate unidentified flying objects with science fiction, UFOs on construction sites are most often dust and microscopic particles wafting in the air. If a worker notices dusty conditions, he or she should don eye protection.
  • Invisible threats: Welding arcs and laser beams can cause lasting eye injuries. Workers should take pains not to look directly at these ocular risks and wear the appropriate eye protection while working with them.
  • Fast moving objects: Construction works use tools and equipment that cause flying debris. Chipping, sawing, and several other tasks can cause particles to fly at astonishing speeds. Depending on the task, individuals may need protection for their entire face.
  • Liquids: Construction workers use several substances that are caustic to the eyes on a day-to-day basis (i.e. tar, paint, cleaning products for equipment). Investing in the appropriate eye protection can save a worker’s sight should the liquid splash up into his or her face.

Wearing eye protection may be uncomfortable, but wearing a glass eye is much likely more so. This is the risk construction workers run when not wearing eye protection. Depending on the job, workers may need goggles, safety glasses, or a full-face shield. Construction workers should take the time to select the appropriate eye protection that suits theira task.

Construction companies should take pains to ensure their workers are wearing the proper PPE for the jobs they are performing. Failure to do so can result in a reduced work force, safety citations, and worker’s compensation claims. The Reilly Company can help construction companies reduce their risk through proper safety planning and insurance policies. To learn more, contact us today.

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Construction Risk: Fire Safety and Threat Assessment

Fires can happen anywhere, and construction sites are no exception. Welding, electrical work, and several other common construction tasks create the perfect environment for an accidental fire. While having fire extinguishers placed in strategic locations around the construction site is a good idea, it is not a comprehensive solution. Different classes of fires need the right type of extinguisher. The most common kinds of fires on construction sites are Class A, B, and C.

Class A Fires

Class A fires have multiple sources. Wood, paper, trash, or any other material that results in glowing embers can all start Class A fires. The best extinguisher to put out this type of blaze is a Class A or Class ABC extinguisher. Class A extinguishers utilize water so construction workers should only use them on Class A fires. For example, using Class A extinguishers on a gasoline-based fire can spread the flames while using it on an electrical fire can result in electrocution. Class ABC extinguishers contain a pressurized, dry, powdered chemical that construction workers can use on Class A, B, or C fires. This versatile extinguisher is preferable over distinct classes because there will be no confusion during the commotion of a fire.

Class B Fires

This class of fire is the result of flammable liquids and gasses. Some examples include gasoline, grease, paint thinners, etc. To put out this type of flame safely, construction workers can use a Class B or Class ABC extinguisher.

Class C Fires

Energized electrical equipment cause these kinds of fires. Construction workers should use a Class BC or Class ABC extinguisher to snuff out this kind of fire.

Additional Important Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips

Knowing what kind of extinguisher goes with which class of fire is only the first step to proper fire safety. There are several more points beyond syncing extinguishers to fires; these include:

  • Knowing the locations of all extinguishers and how to use them
  • Clearing the immediate area around extinguishers of debris and obstructions for ease of access
  • Inspecting, maintaining, and caring for extinguishers

Lastly, construction workers should only use fire extinguishers for putting out fires. Horseplay can result in injuries and is a waste of a valuable fire safety tool. Supervisors should discuss the importance of fire safety and provide proper training for all construction workers to ensure a safe working environment. To learn more about construction safety, contact the experts at The Reilly Group.

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Construction Safety: Accident Prevention and Response

Preventing accidents on a construction site is preferable to managing them after they happen. Unfortunately, many companies fail to realize the extent of hazardous conditions present at a given site until after problems occur. An avoidable incident instead becomes a statistic. Some of the simplest ways to avoid accidents are reporting and acting on unsafe conditions. If a construction worker sees a colleague working in an unsafe manner, he or she should say something. The same holds true if a worker notices an unsafe working condition such as problems with scaffolding. Instead of ignoring workplace hazards, supervisors and workers should take steps to rectify safety issues, helping to mitigate risk and damages – even saving lives.

Learning From Mistakes

While accidents are unfortunate, they do provide a learning opportunity for the future. Investigating the incident can reveal new information to help avoid similar accidents. Investigations should not be a witch-hunt to pin blame on an individual, but a method of bolstering safety efforts going forward. If a construction worker witnesses an accident, they should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Where was I during the incident? Where were others that I could see?
  • Where was the injured individual at the time of the accident? What work were they doing?
  • What was I doing when the accident occurred?
  • Did any equipment contribute to the incident?

If everyone near the site of an accident committed their answers to these questions to memory, they could provide a more complete picture of what happened. Multiple detailed eyewitness accounts can provide more information than one or two. Various angles can reveal new information relevant to the indecent as well.

By providing accurate and factual information, workers can avoid similar accidents in the future. In the event of an accident, construction companies need to be prepared to adjust their safety procedures going forward as well as manage any resulting insurance claims. The Reilly Company can help construction businesses reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents and balance their risk with the right construction insurance policy. To learn more, contact us today.

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Top Risks for Small Construction Businesses

The construction industry is rife with entrepreneurs and small businesses. The allure of being your own boss, creating dream homes, and building beautiful architecture is undeniable. However, the industry itself poses several risks that can jeopardize an entire operation if not managed appropriately. Below are the most prevalent risks threatening construction businesses.

Seasonal Slowdowns

For the construction industry, there are only two seasons: winter and construction. Once the weather begins to turn, construction contracts slow to a trickle. This is because everything becomes harder and more hazardous in wintry conditions. Frozen soil is harder to penetrate, snow conceals dropped tools, and freezing winds make scaffolding work unpleasant and dangerous. Even for businesses in warmer climes, an economic downturn can result in a dearth of contracts. Construction companies have to prepare for the slow season by setting aside earnings from the busy season to help compensate for the decrease in income.

Workplace Injuries

Even with proper safety precautions, accidents can still occur on construction sites. While construction workers are the most likely to be injured, third parties can be as well (such as clients visiting work sites). When accidents happen, the injured party can hold the construction company liable for medical costs and court expenses. To help mitigate these issues, business owners should invest in Worker’s Compensation Insurance as well as General Liability Insurance. In fact, many states require it as a prerequisite to own and operate a construction company.

Damaged Equipment

Construction professionals cannot work without the right tools and equipment. While some tools are easy to replace, others take time and money. This can delay projects and harm a construction company’s reputation. Investing in Property Insurance can help alleviate the cost, but it is best to prevent damages in the first place. Business owners can ensure this by training workers on the proper use, maintenance, and storage of equipment.

Protecting Your Investment

Starting and operating a successful business is the ultimate goal for entrepreneurs. However, without proper risk management, a construction company can quickly fall into ruin. The Reilly Company can help your business manage construction risks with the proper insurance policies and coverages. To learn more, contact us today.

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Safety Best Practices: Securing Your Construction Site

Construction sites are inherently more hazardous than traditional workspaces. Because of these dangers, construction workers must abide by several safety regulations. These regulations help keep construction sites operational and secure. Below are several tips to help construction companies adhere to these regulations as well as promote a safety-driven job site.

Fall Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires construction sites to implement fall protection. Failure to meet fall protection standards is the most common citation OSHA issues. It is also one of the top causes of construction worker injury and death. There are several steps workers and employers can take to minimize falling hazards.

Workers

  • Be aware of fall hazards on construction sites
  • Only work in areas with fully installed fall protection systems
  • Inspect personal fall arrest systems to ensure they are functional and intact

Employers

  • Provide fall protection systems for work areas with unprotected edges that are six feet above a lower level.
  • Examples of fall protection systems include guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems. However, guardrails are the only method that prevent falls; the rest prevent long
  • Fall protection also includes preventing workers from falling in holes as well as protecting them from falling objects. Employers can address these issues by sectioning off excavation areas and requiring workers to wear hard hats.

Scaffolds

Well over half of construction workers make use of scaffolds. While scaffolds help workers perform their jobs, they also expose workers to fall hazards including falling objects as well as potential electrocution.  To reduce these risks, workers and employers should take the following actions.

Workers

  • Workers should wear appropriate safety attire while working on scaffolds. These include hard hats and non-skid boots.
  • Workers should only use scaffolds in good condition. Scaffolds covered in mud, ice, or water are not safe.
  • Workers should only ascend and descend scaffolding at the designated access points.

Employers

  • Supervise or assign a supervisor to oversee the assembling and disassembling of scaffolding. Supervisors should inspect scaffolding daily before workers begin to use them.
  • Only erect scaffolding on solid ground at least 10 feet away from power lines.
  • Scaffolding should have guardrails, midrails, and toe boards to ensure the safety of all construction workers.

A safe work environment is not only vital to completing a successful project it is also required by law. With the multitude of OSHA construction regulations, it can be difficult for employers to stay abreast of all safety standards. The Reilly Company can help your construction business navigate the necessary safety requirements to protect your company from injury claims and fines. To learn more about managing your construction risk, contact us.

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Are You Managing Your Construction Risk?

Every construction project poses unique challenges and risks. Managing these risks is vital for a construction company to survive and thrive. Hoping a risk does not become a reality or outright ignoring it is a recipe for financial disaster. However, businesses cannot begin to manage their risks without knowing the possible sources as well as how to handle them. Below is a breakdown of common threats within the construction industry and ways to keep those risks in check.

Sources of Construction Risk

Knowing what to expect is a major part of managing construction risk. Below are the various risk factors construction businesses face.

  • Competitors: Rival companies are impossible to avoid. However, they can present a major risk to profitability. Business owners may feel pressure to match competitor prices or project completion guarantees, but this can result in slim profitability margins or create problems sourcing materials in time.
  • Contractual risk: Continuing with the above, failing to deliver a project on time can result in fees and penalties. Contracts that demand unrealistic timelines are rife with risk.
  • Cyber liability: A successful cyber attack can damage a construction company’s reputation as well as finances. As construction businesses digitize more and more of their data, they need the appropriate corresponding cyber liability coverage.
  • Fiscal risk: Several elements are a threat to a construction company’s bottom line. For example, unchecked growth, increasing interest rates, decreasing sales, and the economy can all spell financial ruin for a construction company.
  • Natural disasters: Earthquakes and floods are among the most common natural disasters that can jeopardize a construction business. Extreme weather can damage project sites or delay work.
  • Project management risk: Failing to manage a project properly can result in injuries, damages, and delays—all of which affect a business’ bottom line. Poor project management includes inadequate guidelines and policies, failing to enforce said policies, and misjudging time and materials needed to complete a project.
  • Work-related risk: Workers not taking the proper precautions on the jobsite, misusing equipment, and so on can result in job-related injuries and claims.

Managing Construction Risks

There are four schools of thought regarding managing construction risk. These are avoid, transfer, mitigate, or accept the risk.

  • Avoid: Companies can avoid certain risks altogether. For example, if the company knows an area is prone to flooding, they may decline construction projects for that area.
  • Transfer: Most companies transfer their risk by investing in various insurance policies.
  • Mitigate: While some risks are unavoidable, construction companies can reduce their effect. For instance, creating and enforcing safety procedures can reduce safety hazards and incidents on job sites.
  • Accept: Some risks are not controllable, such as unexpected weather conditions delaying a project. Most construction companies accept these risks, but there are ways to reduce the likelihood. For example, businesses can plan construction projects for when weather is usually mild.

Most construction companies determine which method of risk management they will take based on a reward to risk ratio. If a project will net a small profit, it is not worth taking on a high level of risk. However, if the profit margin is large, a company may choose to take on more risk. To learn more about construction risk management, contact The Reilly Company.

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Wearable Technology to Reduce Construction Incidents and Claims

Every construction company needs insurance. Investing in coverage is a smart business practice and can protect a company in the event of costly claims. However, many employers want to reduce workplace accidents or prevent them altogether. Because of this, many within the construction industry are turning to wearable technology to manage risks. Reducing workplace hazards has the added bonus of reducing insurance costs as well.

How the Tech Works

There are a few options for wearable tech available on the market. One such example is a product construction workers can wear on their belt. The product contains sensors that keep track of all workers. The system alerts the supervisor of any trips or falls on the site.  It also has a locator button for emergencies such as injuries. This allows employers to find and assist their injured employee in a rapid manner. Reducing the time to treatment can improve the outcome of the injury by decreasing the severity of the damage as well as recovery time.

The product uses a mesh internet system to stay connected with all workers across the construction site. Such a system allows construction managers to know how far an employee fell, where they fell, and what other employees were in the vicinity. This information is invaluable from a claims perspective, as the data is not subjective.

Similar products exist in vest form, but they serve the same purpose. The primary benefit of wearable technology is its ability to improve workplace safety as well as reduce the response time for injuries. This allows contractors to maximize their project management and employee productivity. Employees can learn from the devices as well. For example, a worker who receives frequent warnings about lifting too much weight may change his workplace habits to avoid injuries due to strain.

The Reilly Company understands that managing risks on construction sites can be difficult. That is why we strive to help businesses mitigate their risk by investing in proper insurance coverage. To learn more about reducing risk for your construction company, contact us today.

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